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Nicolás Guillén Landrián: Cuban Documentary Filmmaker

Nicolás Guillén Landrián (1938 in Camagüey, Cuba – July 23, 2003 in Miami, Florida) was a Cuban experimental filmmaker and painter. He was the nephew of Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén.

Landrián was an accomplished filmmaker, who made a total of 13 documentaries. Almost all of his documentaries were banned by the Cuban government since they were felt to be insulting of Fidel Castro. In 1964, he was given a special award at the Krakow Film Festival for his film En un barrio viejo. In 1968, his documentary Coffea Arabiga featured the Beatles’ song “The Fool on the Hill” as Fidel Castro appeared on screen. That same year, Guillén was accused of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro. Landrián was held for 6 months under torture and interrogation. Then he was released when he failed to break. From 1970 to 1989, he was repeatedly jailed and institutionalized for his anti-Castro documentaries. During this time he was once again interrogated and tortured, but refused to “confess”. So he was repeatedly subjected to Electro Convulsive Therapy (“shock treatments”), without any anesthetic.

In 1989, he was able to escape Cuba and make his way to the freedom of the Miami, Florida Cuban community. He eventually died of cancer on the 23rd of July, 2003, at Mercy Hospital in Miami Florida. At his wife’s request his body was returned to Cuba and he was buried at Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba.


Landrián was also an artist. As a painter he taught René Portocarrero and Victor Miquel Moreno Piñeiro in painting.

Filmmakers Victor R. Jiménez Sosa, and Jorge Egusquiza produced a biographical documentary of Nicolás Guillén Landrián in his own words, Nicolás: the end but not the end, by Coincident Productions (2005).

On 2013 J. Manuel L. Herrera directed “Remembering Nicolasito”, and wrote Nicolas Guillen Landrian in 3D. This book was presented on the 30th Miami Book Fair International.


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